Opened 11 years ago

Closed 8 years ago

Last modified 8 years ago

#792 closed defect (fixed)

MediaGoblin Recommends Non-Free Software

Reported by: Jason Self Owned by:
Priority: major Milestone: 0.9.0
Component: graphic design/interface Keywords:
Cc: Parent Tickets:

Description (last modified by Christopher Allan Webber)

If someone visits a page with a browser that can't play the video they're shown this message:

    <div class="no_html5">Sorry, this video will not work because
      your web browser does not support HTML5 
      video.<br/>You can get a modern web browser that 
      can play this video at <a href=""></a>!</div>

However, the browser called "Firefox" (as well as other Mozilla-branded software) is not free software as explained near the bottom of this page: in which not all four freedoms are fully available in "Firefox."

Can you please change the suggestion to avoid recommending a non-free browser?

Change History (21)

comment:1 by Christopher Allan Webber, 11 years ago

Oy. :\

So I'm not a fan of Mozilla's trademark policies either. I run IceWeasel over here. But I wasn't aware that the FSF considers, on that ground, that FireFox is nonfree software. That's a bit surprising to me. Looking at the trademark policies page:

"The default logos in CVS which are built into Firefox and Thunderbird 
by default (i.e. the globe without the fox, and the original blue bird)
are explicitly notprotected as Mozilla trademarks. The files themselves
are available under the tri-license; you can do anything   
you like with them under those terms."                          

That and from Stallman's own statements:

"Free software means you're free to run it, study it, change it, redistribute it, and distribute modified versions -- the way cooks do with recipes. What names you're allowed to call a program is a side issue."

Furthermore, there's good reason behind the decision as we have it: not including flash, not including h.264... this is an uphill battle for MediaGoblin. The whole point of that text is to teach visitors of MediaGoblin sites that there are totally reasonable free software browser alternatives to this one you're using which seemingly doesn't support <video> and/or WebM, and what's more, you've already heard of them. By replacing that with recommending something the user's probably never heard of, we kill that strategy. So aside from the fact that I'm not convinced that the FireFox is nonfree thing is true or not, that sets us back drastically in a battle we're losing... and I'm not convinced that the reasoning is actually true. We're going to lose a teachable moment here, and I think we'll actually lose the ability to help people move to something that's free software (I still think it is) and advancing free codecs.

As an aside from that, QupZilla (nice site, though it's the first time I've heard of it) as shown on that page doesn't seem to be a reasonable suggestion to offer for Windows users; it seems to require Microsoft Visual Studio to compile on Windows; surely that's most certainly losing in free software qualifications.

I'm not convinced that FireFox isn't free software. I am convinced the trademark issues are annoying. I'm not closing this ticket just yet but I'm not convinced that what we have is a problem, and I feel that as is, we'd be closing one door open towards advancing free software and free codecs and not advancing another one.

comment:2 by Christopher Allan Webber, 11 years ago

Description: modified (diff)

comment:3 by Christopher Allan Webber, 11 years ago

Description: modified (diff)

comment:4 by Julien Gouesse, 11 years ago


Free software is about freedom after all, maybe it should be possible to allow the end user to customize the default text displayed when HTML5 and/or the webm codec aren't supported. Another possible solution consists in allowing the end user to select which web browser(s) to suggest among a list including both GNU Icecat and Mozilla Firefox (even Chromium if some people really want).

QupZilla could choose to compile without MS Visual Studio like us (JogAmp Foundation):
use of MinGW under Windows

I understand the concerns with trademarks.

comment:5 by Christopher Allan Webber, 11 years ago

gouessej: It is possible at present to change the message by overriding a template (we could make it a {% include %}'d template to make that a bit easier I suppose) so it is overridable anyway.

Now to respond to myself responding to jxself, I will say... I was wrong, I think. Having looked into the trademark issue, I think Jason Self is right, since it looks like commercial redistribution of the (vanilla) firefox binaries is forbidden (I don't think this is true for those which you compile yourself from latest source but may be wrong). That's a problem; I'm not sure what to do about it.

So I'm ack'ing on this bug that it's a problem, probably should be solved, but I'm still not sure what to do to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot regarding a path forward for people that really works messaging wise.

comment:6 by Aleksej, 10 years ago

Last edited 10 years ago by Aleksej (previous) (diff)

comment:7 by Aleksej, 10 years ago

A consideration about developers ignoring the potential legitimate need to redistribute binaries commercially: some people (maybe including some Mozilla employees) insist that users of GNU/Linux distributions should be preferring their distributions' repositories over binary packages from the upstream developer.

On the other hand, a tour of a bad Firefox download site:

comment:8 by Gervase Markham, 10 years ago

As Aleksej says: if you think Firefox should not have this restriction, you are saying that users being caught in subscription traps is something you are willing to accept. We don't hold that view. Firefox is in a fairly uncommon position here as a very in-demand and very high-profile bit of free software. (LibreOffice and VLC are the two other apps which have this issue. See )

We've actually managed to send people to jail, in part using the powers that this restriction gives us: gives some of the story.

The Firefox source code is entirely free-as-in-freedom. Requirements for a name change on redistribution are allowed by both the OSI and FSF, as I understand it. I hope you think that's good enough :-)

comment:9 by davidak, 10 years ago

I think Chromium should also be recommended, because its technically a great peace of Software.
My experience is, that Chromium if faster and more stable than Firefox and i use both on different systems (mac, debian, windows xp/7).

So the second sentence could be something like:

"Please use Firefox, Chromium or an other modern browser."

So we recommend good default browsers but people can choose what ever they want, until it supports HTML5.

A good page to link "Chromium" is:
There are stable build linked for windows and mac. Most Linux distros have own in their repos.

comment:10 by Christopher Allan Webber, 10 years ago

I'm still somewhat waffle-y on the trademark issue, but I'm less concerned about it than I was. However, originally I wanted to link to Firefox because it was recognizable, gave people someplace to go that encouraged WebM/free codec support, and because Mozilla was doing good on advancing free formats. I feel less confident in that now, particularly because of the Encrypted Media Extensions integration into Firefox. That's really a disappointment, especially because generally I've been a Mozilla fan. I hope they change their mind on this.

I'm not sure what to do at the moment... I will ponder this a bit further. Probably the easiest solution is to do as davidak suggests and link to Firefox and Chromium both. That's kind of a bummer though, because I used to think Firefox was the clear leader on the user freedom front here.

in reply to:  10 comment:11 by Rodrigo Rodrigues da Silva, 10 years ago

Replying to cwebber:

I feel less confident in that now, particularly because of the Encrypted Media Extensions integration into Firefox. That's really a disappointment, especially because generally I've been a Mozilla fan. I hope they change their mind on this.

They won't. Actually integrating EME is not a big change in policy, as disappointing as it is in face of Mozilla's recent marketing boom on the "open web" thing (as a strategy to regain momentum after Chrome became relevant).

A few examples of Mozilla's non-compliance to free software principles are the Add-ons Manager in Firefox and FirefoxOS's Marketplace: both offer non-free software to the users. Also, when you access a website with a Flash object Firefox offers you to install Adobe Flash (it could offer GNU Gnash, instead) if you don't have a plugin capable of decoding swf. And at least some time ago you could not build a functional FirefoxOS (Boot2Gecko by that time) unless you were a Mozilla employee because it relied on proprietary kernel modules that they were not allowed to distribute to the public.

In fact, EME is the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately.

comment:12 by Gervase Markham, 10 years ago

I'm confused. Why do you say the "open web" is a marketing strategy to combat Chrome, when Mozilla has been talking about promoting choice and innovation and openness on the Internet ever since we started, and it's written in our manifesto. And even if you were right, surely you should be cheering us on, given that Chrome has lots of proprietary bits (H.264, Flash, etc.) and Firefox doesn't have any?

EME is a very sad thing; but why are you angry with us, rather than with the companies who all implemented it first (including Google, authors of Chrome and Chromium)? It seems like you want Mozilla to fight your battles for you, without helping, and then feel free to get angry when we don't win every time.

On the Flash-vs-Gnash question: we do offer Flash, but soon we'll be offering Shumway, a new, free software implementation of Flash written entirely in JavaScript (and therefore much more secure). Gnash has never really got off the ground from a compatibility and popularity standpoint, and we are close to actually achieving that goal with Shumway. How does that fit with your narrative that we don't care about free software?

_No-one_, not even Google with the Nexus phones, has managed to build a working, commercial phone using only free software. No-one. Castigating Mozilla for not achieving it yet either is really unfair. It's something we are working towards and hoping to achieve, but it'll take time. And if we stayed out of the market until we achieved it, we'd have about as much effect on the mobile phone industry as Replicant has. (No disrespect to that team, but they have a near-impossible task.)

I think you would be much better off thinking of Mozilla as an ally who uses different tactics to you but who you can still support, than of thinking of us as the bad guys. There are more than enough bad guys out there already.

comment:13 by Christopher Allan Webber, 10 years ago

Resolution: wontfix
Status: newclosed

I commented poorly here and I apologize. I didn't mean to say "remove Firefox because Mozilla is now our enemy", though I see I did a very bad job updating here and it probably came off that way. Sorry. Mozilla is one of our strongest allies and I *strongly* agree there. Mozilla has done more for the "open web" than any other organization. Mozilla is clearly an ally, not a bad guy. I am *disappointed* with the EME decision, and I strongly think it was the wrong decision (even against Mozilla's long-term interests), but that doesn't mean I think that makes Mozilla an enemy or a not-ally. (I am glad that Mozilla seems to still be putting energy into working on free codec alternatives. I hope this continues.)

What I *meant* to say in my previous post was not that we should remove Firefox from being recommended, but whether or not it should be the *only* recommended browser. This is somewhat a different conversation than what this bug opened up with, and I think that's adding confusion too, and that's my bad. But some context anyway...

Early on in MediaGoblin's support of video, I put Firefox as the only recommended browser in there, and that was very intentional. A number of people asked me since to add Chromium as a recommended browser, and I said no because I thought Firefox was the only browser that really advanced our agenda: it supported WebM but not h.264 (and we *can't* support h.264 in MediaGoblin, so pushing things along there helped), Mozilla is a nonprofit advocating what we seem to support, and it has the best chance of advancing a free media future, and which has a name that people actually recognize. So turning down suggested patches to add Chromium to that page was because of the argument I was making there.

My argument that maybe we should add Chromium is because my above argument that Firefox is the only browser we should list has been whittled away by recent events. This doesn't mean Mozilla is bad or not our ally (it isn't, and it is), or Firefox isn't my favorite browser (it still is, even if Debian calls it Iceweasel), it just means that maybe my argument that we should list Firefox as the only free browser on that list doesn't really hold up. That doesn't mean we should remove Firefox, just that maybe it's okay to list other free browsers also.

As for how this sorta ties into this bug, the original reason I was very bothered by this bug was because I thought (and still do) that having Firefox listed there is important to our strategy towards encouraging users to adopt browsers that advance our interests, especially because I think it's the only well recognized name out there. The idea that we would need to remove it, or replace the name with something not well known, was troubling. But it was troubling because I wanted to keep Firefox listed there.

As for the trademark thing, I'm not really thrilled with the Mozilla trademark policy, but at the moment I don't see any sufficiently compelling reasons to remove it for those reasons (and I don't think it holds up as nonfree software... it is somewhat problematic, but this is not the same thing)... so I'm closing this bug. We might, however, add another browser to the list... my original reasons for objecting to that don't hold up as strongly any more, but that's really a separate issue.

I am very disappointed in recent decisions around h.264 and EME, but that doesn't mean we're removing Firefox from the list, though we might add something else in addition since my original reasons for keeping our recommendation to Firefox-only does not hold up well. But that's a separate issue. I am closing out this bug.

I apologize again for making this so murky.

Last edited 10 years ago by Christopher Allan Webber (previous) (diff)

comment:14 by Gervase Markham, 10 years ago

OK. Feel free to CC me on that new bug if you like, but here's what I would say in response to the suggestion that you should list other browsers alongside Firefox: you need to look at the goals and intentions of the browser authors, and where they are going, as well as where they are at the moment.

The success of Mozilla's mission and strategy to keep the web open depends on market share. No market share, no voice. That's the way we've always worked. The more people (particularly free-software-loving people) use Chrome or Chromium, the fewer use Firefox, the weaker Mozilla gets, and the less influence we have. So my question is: who is going to fight harder for the things you care about? Mozilla or Google? So who do you want to give the marketshare power to?

Take EME. Both Firefox and Chrome implement or are implementing EME. But Google are where they are because that's exactly where they want to be. Mozilla are where they are because they were backed into a corner, and will be working on ways to get out of it. Same position, different trajectory.

comment:15 by svetlana, 8 years ago

Resolution: wontfix
Status: closedaccepted


I would like to re-open this ticket. GNU projects should not recommend non-free software to their users.

Mozilla Firefox is not a free browser and GNU IceCat is the free alternative as outlined at its homepage. It does not have non-free components, does not include non-free plugins, does not link users to because this site contains non-free addons, and also contains GNU LibreJS addon which prevents proprietary web site scripts from running. I would suggest to resolve this ticked by running commands like these:

cd mediagoblin;
find . -type f -exec sed -i '' '{}' \;
find . -type f -exec sed -i 's#firefox#GNU IceCat#g' '{}' \;

Last edited 8 years ago by svetlana (previous) (diff)

comment:16 by warp, 8 years ago

Resolution: wontfix
Status: acceptedclosed

svetlana, I don't think this should have been reopened. There hasn't been any recent change in the freeness of Firefox. Concerns about the trademark policy are valid, but cwebber addressed those in comment:5.

comment:17 by Christopher Allan Webber, 8 years ago

There's been enough noise about this, and these days I'm less inclined to recommend Firefox above all other options. I've made a new page on the LibrePlanet wiki:

How about maintaining that page and linking to it from MediaGoblin instead?

comment:18 by Christopher Allan Webber, 8 years ago

Resolution: wontfix
Status: closedaccepted

comment:19 by Christopher Allan Webber, 8 years ago

comment:20 by Christopher Allan Webber, 8 years ago

Milestone: 0.8.2
Resolution: fixed
Status: acceptedclosed

comment:21 by Christopher Allan Webber, 8 years ago


All 0.8.2 tickets are being rolled over to 0.9.0

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